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From: Jeff Garland (jeff_at_[hidden])
Date: 2006-04-22 15:43:16

On Sat, 22 Apr 2006 19:41:09 +0100, Marcin Kalicinski wrote
> Hi Jeff,
> > 1) Find is under documented / doesn't work for me
> > [...]
> > I tried various keys in the find including:
> >
> > ptree::const_iterator ci = pt.find("User Data.value2");
> find() is a standard-container type function, it does not accept
> paths, only single keys.
> Use get_child instead. This is excerpt from docs on find():
> <snip>
> Finds direct child stored at specified key. If there is more than
> one child with the same key, the first one is returned. Time
> complexity is O(log n). Keys equivalence is tested with a predicate
> supplied as basic_ptree template parameter. If child is not found,
> returns end(). Both const and non-const versions are provided. To
> find non-direct children use get_child function. <snip>
> I hope it states clearly enough it only finds direct children, and
> also gives you a colored, underlined link to a function which works
> with paths
> (get_child). Btw. all std-container functions work only on direct
> children. Only extra functions get/put etc. recongnize paths. This
> is by design. As far as I remember, it is nowhere directly said in
> docs, which definitely is a nasty omission.

Ok, that would certainly clarify things. I would argue for an example of
using find versus get_child -- that would make it really clear.

> > 2) Iterators are underspecified
> >
> > It was totally unclear to me from the docs what the interface to
> > iterators returned from the interface. I finally found a test or
> > example and copied.
> >
> > std::cout << ci-> << std::endl;
> Maybe the problem is that it is understated that basic_ptree is a
> standard container?
> All containers have value_type member that
> defines what is stored, and ptree is no exception. You only have to
> look it up in reference. Additionally there's whole section
> "Property tree as a container" which talks, among other things,
> about value type stored in ptree. I'm open to suggestions, please
> let me know what you think should be added and where to make it more
> clear.

Well I sorta got that, but there are all kinds of standard containers. It
wasn't clear that the iterators model associative container iterators. And
again, there isn't a simple example in the docs so I had to hunt one down in
the test/examples.

> > 3) Write operations are not 'whitespace' and comment preserving
> >
> > To me this is a critical point not fulfilled by the library. Most
> > real-world configuration files have comments. If the application needs
> > to read/write the files it needs to maintain the comments as human
> > written.
> I'm afraid I must disagree with you. What is manipulated by
> property_tree is data. Data in case of INI file are sections, keys
> and values. If you want comments, you must use another format that
> explicitly has support for comments. Ptree at the moment supports
> only one such format: XML.

Hmm the INI parser seems to support skipping of comments, don't see why it
can't take the same approach as XML? And are you saying that the comments
would be preserved in an XML config?

> That said, how would you imagine data about comments and layout
> should be stored/manipulated? Should the library distinguish between
> tabs and spaces, count lines between entries etc? Would it be
> possible to manipulate this metadata on par with normal data? What
> would be use of that if you deleted/added keys in runtime. For example:
> [Fruit]
> ;Citrus
> 1=Orange
> 2=Lemon
> ; Tropical
> 3=Banana
> Now you add "Grapefruit". How would you know you should add it after
> Lemon and before Banana, because otherwise it would violate your
> comments? There's a whole pandora box of problems. Should comments
> be attached to nodes? What about comments in between nodes? What
> about whitespace, should it be attached to nodes before it, or after
> it, or maybe split in half?
> You must also remember we are now using INI files as example. This
> format has really simple layout. What about JSON, where you can have
> multiple keys in one line, and many more variations? I think
> preserving layout in presence of additions/deletions or even node
> modifications is impractical. In case there are no modifications,
> there is no need to save. Even if there was, you could just store
> contents of the file along with the tree.
> Please let me know if you have idea on how
> whitespace/layout/comments could be preserved easily. If there is no
> such way I can only say this functionality does not belong to this
> library. It's rather text editor job.

I'm running out the door so I'll have to answer your questions later, but I'll
say that I think the adding a new node is pretty easy. It doesn't exist so
there is nothing to preserve. As for comments, they need to fit into the
property_tree in some way so that they can be written back. I could probably
live without perfect whitespace preservation, but no comments on write is a
dealbreaker for me. Reasonably complex configs always need comments for the
human. If those are lost then all my work creating a nicely commented config
is wiped out and I can't use your library in those cases.



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